Chiang Mai has dozens of provincial fairs and festivals throughout the year. Many have religious or historical origins, others are simply joyous celebrations of Thailand's amazing agricultural bounty, or its wide range of crafts.
Amongst the most important are the Borsang Umbrella Festival and the Baan Tawai Wood Carving Fair, both held in January.
Early February brings the lovely Chiang Mai Flower Festival with parades, floats, cultural performances and exhibitions.
In the heat of mid-April, city commerce closes down for nearly a whole week during the Thai New Year Songkran Festival, which is celebrated in Chiang Mai with more fervour and more water throwing than the rest of the country put together. This is a wonderfully wild time, and unless you are wearing quick-drying clothes and carrying your camera in a plastic bag, you should not leave the waterproof interior of a closed vehicle during the daytime. Evenings bring relative safety, and a host of splendid cultural events in many city venues.
The most beautiful Loy Kratong (Yeepeng) festival takes place during the November full moon when candlelit handmade floats or "kratongs" are placed reverently on any available stretch of water, creating an unforgettable backdrop for the processions, celebrations, and performances, which for most foreigners, make this the best-loved event of the year.